Friday, September 14, 2012

Rising Lands Around the Globe

Contrary to what most people think, land masses rising out of the sea are not only constant, but some have happened and are happening in our lifetime, some as you read this post.

Rising out of the water in the sharply mountainous and volcanic Canary Islands, which is a Spanish claimed archipelago of 13 islands that lie in the Atlantic Ocean 62 miles off the coast of Morocco, Africa, is a brand new island. Rising in the waters near El Hierro, which is the smallest island and the farthest southwest of the group, the new island is so far nameless. The land itself is just 230 feet below the surface, and has been rising recently until it broke the surface this year in an area that experienced 10,000 tremors in four months, beginning in October 2011. The sea around the new island has been measured at up to 95º F., and islanders are already trying to come up with an appropriate name for the emerging land.

The new island rising above the Atlantic Ocean in the Canary Island archipelago. This is how all seven of the largest islands in the group were created

In Suomi (Finalnd), thousands of islands are emerging from the sea. The Kvarken Archipelago is one of those areas. The rapid land uplift has serious repercussions for local communities along low-lying coasts, with islands becoming part of the mainland as rocks and land emerges offshore, and ecologists are fascinated to observe how the newly emergent lands are gradually colonized by plants and animals.

Parallel emergent moraine ridge islands are visible beyond Björköby in the Gulf of Bothnia. It will not be long before all this is solid land

These Kvarken (sea throat) islands near Vaasa in western Finland and the rapidly advancing shoreline is emerging from the Gulf of Bothnia in the northern Baltic spanning the 50-mile channel between Finland and Sweden. These emerging lands are known as DeGeer moraines, and sheltered, shallow pools are formed between the moraines, as the land lifts upward through the phenomenon known as “isostasy,” causing two countries to be slowly growing closer together.

An aerial view of the emerging lands showing how they move together as the sea withdraws

In Polynesia’s 70-island Vava’u chain, of which 17 are inhabited, mostly made up of one large island and 40 smaller ones in the Tonga Islands Archipelago, of which the tallest point is only 430 feet above sea level, a new island is forming. Vava’u is one of the four main island groups in Tonga, and in 2006, a new island rose from the sea south of Late.

Top Left: Location of the New Island and Late Island; Top Right: Map of Vava’u Island Group in the South Pacific; Bottom Left: The Birth of an island; Bottom Right: The Island moving above sea level

The Greek Islands of Santorini in the southern Aegean Sea have been rising rapidly over the past year, moving upwards and outwards from a series of small earthquakes occurring between January and April, particularly around an area north of Kameni Islands.

A rising island near Santorini in the Greek Archipelago. This is an area that has risen and sunk at least 14 times during the past centuries

A 240-foot-tall volcanic island in the South Pacific was still venting sulfur gases in December  2006, four months after it emerged from the sea.

Birth of an island in the Solomon Islands. Over the years this island has surfaced and sunk more than a hundred times

Kavachi is a submarine volcano located in the Solomon Islands which has emerged and eroded back into the ocean several times since it was first recorded. Kavachi is one of the most active submarine volcanoes in the southwest Pacific Ocean, located south of Vangunu Island in the Solomons, it is named after a sea god of the New Georgia Group islanders, and is also referred to locally as Rijo te Kavachi, meaning Kavachi’s Oven.

The island has become emergent and then been eroded back into the sea at least eight times since it was first spotted in 1939

A different landform was created in the man-made Gatun Lake in the middle of the Panama Canal zone. When the Chagres River was dammed to form the lake, the waters rose and created a six-square-mile island in the middle of the lake.  

Barrow Colorado Island rising up out of the waters in Panama in 2002, when water levels were changed and diverted. Note the size of the ship passing along the northeast shore

On the other hand, over the past century, the Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives, a grouping of islands in a double chain of twenty –six atolls, have been sinking. While it may be doubtful that the Maldive condition is the result of Global Warming as their government claims, the point is the Maldives are slowly sinking into the Indian Ocean.
A sinking nation on a coral reef island in the Maldives. Not too long ago that yellow area was above the sea line

While Indonesia reports that land is sinking north of Bangkok, it is at the same time reported that land is rising east of Java between the islands of Java and Bali, where a new island has risen fromm nothing within a few days.

East of the Indonesian island Java, in the sea between Java and Bali, this new island has emerged from the sea where no land had been seen, coming up within a  few days

The point of all this is to show that land and sea areas as we know them today, have not only changed from in the past, but are changing even today. The problem is, while we live in our own little private world of our own limited knowledge, the dynamic world around us is changing, sometimes in ways that boggle the mind. To make a claim that this or that did not exist in the past when scientific evidence to the contrary abounds, is both arrogant and extremely limiting. One can make claim to something and defend it to the hilt, but when one is not that knowledgeable of the world around him, one might want to be a little more open minded.

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